A new apartment was inaugurated for Haredi lone soldiers last night (Wednesday) in Jerusalem. The ceremony was attended by Deputy Minister Michael Oren; Jerusalem municipal councilor and mayoral candidate Moshe Leon; representatives of the Ministry of Defense; philanthropist Mr. David Hager; rabbis of Nahal Haredi Organization ; and founder of the Nahal Haredi Brigadier General (Res.) Yehudah Duvdevani.
The new apartment is one of a network of residences operated by Nahal Haredi Organization (Nahal Haredi) offering Haredi lone soldiers a place to call home and feeling of warmth and acceptance throughout the period of their military service. Renovations on the apartment were made possible thanks to the generous gift of Jewish American businessman and philanthropist Robert Zarnegin. Zarnegin, who owns the five-star luxury Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel in Los Angeles, was personally involved in the attractive modern design of the freshly-renovated apartment.
Founder of Nahal Haredi Brigadier General (Res.) Yehuda Duvdevani addressed the public debate regarding the highly-contested Draft law. “We want to see a boy who’s drafted into the army return home to his parents Haredi and with a vocation in hand. A person who is learning for real should continue learning! We’re all for it! We were the first to say it at the very start, and today, even MKs from the Opposition are repeating our message. But those who aren’t really learning – and there are more than a few – should enlist, be a mentch, start a family, and remain part of the Haredi sector while integrating positively into society with a profession.”
Deputy Minister Michael Oren congratulated Nahal Haredi Organization and expressed, “Over 7,000 lone soldiers from countries around the world are presently serving in the IDF. This is tremendous! A significant portion, and perhaps the most significant portion, are the Haredi lone soldiers. Twenty five percent of soldiers serving in Netzach Yehuda are lone soldiers, and it’s even harder to be a Haredi soldier with all the special needs that it entails. I think that a place like Nahal Haredi which manifests such sensitivity, awareness, and care is a wonderful thing. This is particularly expressed in this building. As a former lone soldier myself, I could never have dreamed of a place like this.”
Further in his speech, Oren shared that he’d received a poignant appeal from a friend in Hollywood who’d asked him to look after his son who was a former member of the Haredi paratroopers brigade which is escorted by Nahal Haredi Organization. “He was a lone soldier in the IDF who’d served as a Haredi paratrooper and was injured [and unable to continue combat service.] The IDF didn’t know what to do with him, so he remained on base without being officially discharged until he fell into a serious depression. I called Nahal Haredi Organization and within 24 hours the soldier was transferred to a different unit and incorporated into a new position. It was simply amazing.”
A spokesperson for Nahal Haredi Organization relays: “Many Haredi young men who enlist in the army are no longer welcome in their homes. At times, the IDF doesn’t officially acknowledge these soldiers as ‘lone soldiers’ because they physically have a family in Israel and may even keep slightly in touch, even if the only communication is a rare phone call between the soldier and his parents. These young people need a place to call home during army leave.
Nahal Haredi Organization operates a chain of comfortable apartments for these soldiers, but unfortunately, we still don’t have enough to absorb them all. Each time there’s a new draft, there are dozens of Haredi lone soldiers who are unable to return home for a variety of reasons, and they need a solution. The problem is exacerbated by the incitement and violence targeting Haredi soldiers, which causes many soldiers to avoid going home, and families to break contact with their sons who serve in the army. We are overjoyed to be able to grant these soldiers a warm, comfortable home where they can maintain their Haredi lifestyle and values.”
Edited by: JV Staff